Empress of the Seas going under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBERT NEFF

June 8, 2017. The Skyway North Fishing Pier offers the closest and one of the best locations to view cruise ships, freighters, and boats going under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Tonight I headed out to the fishing pier, paid $3.21 at the toll booth to photograph Royal Caribbean's smallest ship, the Empress of the Seas. She is a member of the Sovereign Class with gross tonnage at 48,563, length is 692 ft, and max beam is 100ft, and draft is 25 feet. The largest Royal Caribbean cruise ship that goes under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is the Radiance Class' Brilliance of the Seas.

The Empress of the Seas left the Port of Tampa after 4 PM and reached the Sunshine Skyway Bridge just after 6 PM. That day the weather was prematurely into our summer storm cycle. By the time the Empress of the Seas reached the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the storms were surrounding us but the channel was clear through the Skyway and into the Gulf. As clouds crossed the sun's path, the light was rapidly changing from bright to shade and back to bright.

This is how the morning started for Tampa Bay.

Choppy waters, windy. The wind would be ever so slightly moving my camera and long lens on the tripod. This meant the wind the horizon would not be in the same location for each shot.

I had had been watching the Empress of the Sea approach the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The pilot makes the last cut and lines up on the center light pole that hangs down from the bridge.

The cloud's shade is rolling across the ship.

I did get back in time to catch sunset's last moments.

Enjoy more stories and images of what I get to enjoy everyday!

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Venice, Italy. 2007

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Robert Neff


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